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Documents from the latest round of #Bitorrent lawsuits

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On 2010 September 3, three complaints were filed in court by three pornography studios against about 100 BitTorrent file-sharers each. These complaints alleged copyright infringement. You can see some coverage on Slashdot.

Using PACER (a shitty ass system run by the Courts that retrieves court documents) and RECAP (an awesome equivalent service), I downloaded each case’s Exhibit A, which lists the IPs and ISPs of the alleged infringers, the date on which the alleged infringement occurred, and the filename. Sadly the info-hash nor the BitTorrent tracker was listed so without lots of legwork, I can’t tell you which trackers were being targeted by these studios.

Anyways, here are the documents, via archive.org and RECAP. You want the document labeled Exhibit A:

More on PACER and RECAP after the jump.PACER is a system developed and run by the Courts to allow people to retrieve court documents. Each federal court (including District, Circuit, and Supreme) runs their own system, but the account and billing is centralized and the interfaces are pretty standard. There’s a good amount of search criteria so its a decently designed system. However, PACER charges $0.08 for each page retrieved. This fee applies not just to actual court filings, but also to search results. So if you type in a really common search term and you get like 100 pages of results back, thats $8.00.

Charging money for what is essentially the laws on the books is pretty fucked up. These court cases and their opinions are considered law by other courts. How can a citizen know what is going to be a violation of the law and what isn’t if he has to pay money to find out? You may say that maybe only the opinions need to be free. This is false. An opinion rests on the facts of the case. If the facts of your own situation differ from the facts of the case you’re looking at, then the opinion may have some leeway. This is why it’s important to look at the entire case, including the filings by both sides which states the facts as perceived by each side, as well as the opinions

The Courts had the good sense to waive any charges under $10 per quarter, but that’s still pretty measly. That’s 125 pages. When you look at a court case and all the filings and opinions, then you will quickly go over 125 pages. This service should be completely free and funded by taxpayers.

The courts claim that the fee is needed to recoup operating costs. Well I think that’s bogus. First of all, nobody knows the revenues and costs of the PACER system because they refuse to publish it. And I bet there is at least one undergrad within 10 miles of each federal District Court in the US that could design a better system that ran on a fraction of the hardware and a fraction of the bandwidth. Maybe this is a problem BitTorrent can solve. I know I’d be willing to dedicate at least 10 KB/s of bandwidth to these court torrents, and I’m sure others would too. Get enough people in the US to do so, and we have a winner.

RECAP is a Firefox extension that should be installed by all users of PACER. When it’s on a PACER page, it automatically uploads the dockets and documents that you paid for to archive.org. That way, the entire world only pays once for the document. If I had more time and an automated way of downloading documents from PACER, I’d download up to my $10 limit per quarter to help out. Sadly, the archive.org search is nowhere near the search capabilities of PACER. I couldn’t find a way to search by party or date. About the only thing you can search on is the abbreviation archive.org uses for a court and the PACER case number.

Written by notatypewriter

2010 September 5 at 11:51 am

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